Facebook Twitter



Test scores for the Provo School District show some encouraging progress, the superintendent says.

However, some parents aren't certain the Stanford Achievement Test scores in the Provo schools are all good news.In the Nebo School District, scores were up for fifth-grade students, but they fell slightly for eighth- and 11th-grade students.

Provo School District

Superintendent Michael Jacobsen sees the mixed set of scores from this fall's SAT as "fairly similar to prior years where we equaled or exceeded" other districts in the nation.

Parents Joanne Williams and Sandy Packard are worried.

Williams won a seat on the school board in November's election. Packard competed for the seat held by board president Ken Matheson.

"Sandy and I thought it was interesting that the graphs look like we're doing better when we're actually still behind," Williams said. "Overall, the scores went down in all the schools, which tell us the kids are not staying where they should be. They're losing ground."

Jacobsen said the reading scores districtwide are up, reflecting an increased emphasis on reading skills. He also pointed to progress in the math and science scores. "There's been a district focus on both those areas."

He believes the middle-school scores will rise after "highly impacted" elementary schools with large numbers of at-risk students are given an opportunity to enjoy smaller class sizes and better student-to-teacher ratios.

Three of the four highly impacted schools in the district, which include Franklin, Joaquin, Timpanogos and Maeser, already showed an increase in reading, science, social studies and math scores.

However, Joaquin remains the the district's low-scoring school.

Wasatch Elementary fell a large number of percentile points in the total battery score from what the principal called an "anomoly" last year. Jacobsen said it isn't a great concern because certain classes will sometimes skew the scores.

Jacobsen said the district doesn't become overly concerned about year-to-year dips and turns but does watch for trends that may signal deficiencies.

"For instance, the language arts scores are not as strong as they need to be, and we don't know why. Neither does the state. With reading scores up, the language arts scores should be also. We don't know why they are not as strong. That's something we'll be looking at, along with the state. It's one area where Utah does not shine."

Nebo School District

SPANISH FORK - Nebo School District's Johnny can read. District fifth-grade reading, math and language arts scores rose seven percentile points in the 1996 SAT scores, compared with last year's results.

"I feel good about the district," said Nedra Call, curriculum coordinator for kindergarten through 12th grade. "There's always room for improvement. I'm not dissatisfied at all."

Students in the fifth, eighth and 11th grades took the standardized test. The eighth-grade total battery score fell three percentile points, while the 11th grade dropped one point from last year. High school students declined slightly in reading and language arts.

However, the elementary students excelled in language arts. Call believes that is partly because of an infusion of state and federal cash earmarked for improving those skills.

The district score for fifth grade was higher than last year in all subjects, although five schools declined from last year, including Mapleton Elementary School, down 10 percentile points.

"That was very unusual for Mapleton," said Call. "But you can't judge a school on one year, because you're looking at just one grade."

Mapleton Principal J. Lynn Jones scratches his head over the test results. Asked why the scores dropped 10 percentile points, Jones responded, "I have no idea."

Mapleton, which usually has much higher scores, had the largest decline in the district.

"We felt we were well-prepared for the test," Jones said. The school tried to prepare the children for the test, but a variety of factors may have contributed to the decline, including new students, said Call. About 10 percent of the fifth-grade class is new this year, but Jones said he didn't know if that was a factor.

"I'm not as concerned because other tests show our students are doing well. They just didn't do as well on that particular test," Jones said.

The lowest score of any Nebo elementary school was Westside in Springville at the 33rd percentile. Principal Peter Fawson said 39 fifth-graders took the SAT, and 19 were below grade level. He said the school uses state and federal programs to help those students with severe and moderate reading and math problems.

Park View Elementary in Payson showed the greatest improvement, being 21 percentile points above 1995 scores.

Principal Mark Balzotti credited the success at Grant, the district's highest-scoring school, as largely an accumulation of several years of work by dedicated teachers and parents.

He said the school uses a new reading program that balances phonics and literature. But he wasn't certain if the high scores were the result.

First-year Park View Elementary Principal Dwight Liddiard, Payson, says attitude made the difference among his fifth-graders. At 21 points over last year's score, the students had the highest gain in the district. Their total battery was the 58th percentile, compared with 37 last year.

"Last year's score was not a true picture," he said. So this year, the school focused on boosting the children's attitude and hence their scores. Each day, a class did something to boost the fifth-graders' spirits, he said. One day, the Payson High School cheerleading squad showed up to give the children a cheer.

District personnel plan to analyze each school's scores and focus on strengthening weaknesses, including offering teachers inservice sessions where needed.



SAT results: Nebo School District



Fifth Grade

Art City 63 55 64 +2 44-71

Barnett 53 48 58 +4 38-64

Brockbank 60 57 66 +4 43-69

Brookside 53 61 59 +8 37-63

Goshen 57 34 54 +4 36-62

Grant 72 48 78 +17 40-67

Larsen 55 55 56 -5 46-74

Mapleton 60 55 52 -10 46-74

Mt. Loafer 57 42 54 NA NA

Park 63 67 67 +11 40-68

Park View 53 45 58 +21 37-63

Rees 45 61 56 -3 28-52

Sage Creek 57 55 58 +17 44-71

Salem 57 45 51 -1 46-73

Santaquin 55 64 56 +4 36-61

Taylor 51 45 50 +3 36-62

Westside 37 39 39 -5 35-61

Wilson 53 57 59 +16 36-61

Total Fifth Grade 57 55 58 +7 50-66

Eighth Grade

Payson 51 39 40 +2 37-60

Spanish Fork 49 41 40 -8 42-65

Springville 62 41 50 -1 40-64

Total Eighth Grade

53 41 44 -3 45-60

Eleventh Grade



Payson 58 45 53 0 39-62

Spanish Fork 58 51 55 0 43-65

Springville 61 45 56 -5 46-67

Total Eleventh Grade 58 45 55 -1 50-62

The national norm is 50.

*Change reflects the increase or decrease in total battery score from 1995. The total battery includes math, reading, language arts/English, study skills and, in Grades 5 and 8, listening.


SAT results: Provo City School District

Fifth Grade



Canyon Crest 68 57 66 -1 46-73

Franklin 45 39 46 +7 24-46

Grandview 49 39 47 +4 37-63

Joaquin 34 39 44 +13 19-40

Edgemont 65 55 68 +5 46-74

Maeser 40 32 43 -5 22-44

Provost 51 52 56 +8 35-61

Rock Canyon 68 67 76 +9 40-67

Sunset View 65 57 62 +12 36-62

Timpanogos 39 42 41 +6 23-44

Wasatch 49 45 51 -28 36-62

Westridge 57 55 62 -4 39-66

Total Fifth Grade 57 52 59 +6 44-58

Eighth Grade

Centennial Middle 64 48 55 NA NA

Dixon Middle 53 39 40 -3 32-54

Farrer Middle 53 35 42 -11 33-56

Total Eighth Grade 59 41 48 0 40-54

Eleventh Grade



Provo 65 51 63 +5 37-58

Timpview 69 58 62 0 39-62

Independence** 23 18 21 +7 26-48

Total Eleventh Grade 65 51 61 +5 44-57

The national norm is 50.

*Change reflects the increase or decrease in total battery score from 1995. The total battery includes math, reading, language arts/English, study skills and, in Grades 5 and 8, listening.

**Alternative school

NA - Not available


More results coming

The Deseret News will publish some results from the 1996 Stanford Achievement Test, which is mandated by the Utah Legislature as a measure of school accountability.

The SAT, a norm-referenced test, does not have a passing grade. It uses a median, not an average. Relying on a national norm known as the 50th percentile, half the students taking the SAT scored above this percentile, with the other half scoring below it.

Taking into account socioeconomic and other factors, the state sets an expected test-score range for each school and district.

This year, the Deseret News is publishing the reading and English/language arts scores in addition to total battery scores. Over the past few years, educators have worried about low scores in these subjects.

The school-by-school scores will be published for the following districts:

Today - Provo and Nebo school districts.

Thursday, Jan. 2 - Murray and Tooele school districts.

Friday, Jan. 3 - Park City and North and South Summit school districts.